Pumpkin chili with goat and black beans

Today I made chili without a recipe for the first time ever. I had a sugar pumpkin and ground goat meat in the house already, so I started with those and made up the rest. It turned out so good, I just had to share. Chili is flexible so you can always add or subtract some veggies for others, and substitute any chop meat you have or keep it veggie! Just play around with the spices and liquid level to suit your tastes. Here’s a good starting point:

Pumpkin chili with goat and black beans

Ingredients

Extra virgin olive oil
1 lb ground goat meat
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 ribs of celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 diced hot chili
1 tbsp chili powder
1/4 – 1/2 tsp each: garlic powder, paprika, cumin, salt, black pepper
28 oz diced tomatoes
~1 cup broth (any kind, I used chicken)
~2 cups cooked pumpkin (I just used 1 whole roasted sugar pumpkin here but you could use canned)
2 16 oz cans of beans (any kind, I used black beans)

Roast 1 whole sugar pumpkin in the oven on 350F for ~1.25 hours. Place a baking sheet under the pumpkin on the rack below in case it leaks. Remove pumpkin from oven and slice in half to let it cool. Then, remove seeds (keep them to roast or just toss) and scoop out the pulp into a bowl. Mash it with a fork until smooth.

In the meantime, heat ~1 tbsp olive oil in a pot and brown your meat. When cooked, remove meat from the pan and drain the fat. Set meat aside. In the same pan, saute all the veggies 5-10 minutes until soft. Add in the spices and cook a few more minutes.

Add the meat back into the pot with the veggies, along with the diced tomatoes, broth and pumpkin puree. Bring to a slow boil and then simmer uncovered on low for 1-2 hours. Stir every so often. Mix in beans during the last few minutes of cooking just to heat them through.

Serve over white rice and enjoy!

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Red curry veggies over cauliflower fried rice

I had more energy than normal tonight following an awesome workout so I prepped dinner with a little extra love and passion. As it happens, it came out awesome and was actually pretty simply so I wanted to share. I stir-fried a bunch of veggies, made a quick (literally under five minutes) red curry and served it over cauliflower fried rice. The most time-consuming part was food processing the cauliflower, but you could always do this in advance or just dice it up small. Any veggies will do 🙂

Red curry veggies over cauliflower fried rice

Ingredients

for stir fry
coconut oil (or whatever oil you use for higher heat)
LOTS of roughly chopped veggies (I used 1 green bell pepper, 1 zucchini, 1 package of shitaki mushrooms, a few handfuls of bean sprouts, 1 medium yellow onion)
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

for fried rice
about a thumbs worth of butter (or your favorite fat)
1 head of cauliflower, food processed until rice size
~1 cup frozen peas
3 eggs

for red curry
coconut/extra virgin olive oil
~2 tbsp red curry paste
1/2 can full-fat coconut milk

First, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat in a wok or heavy pan. Toss in all stir fry veggies and cook about ten minutes until soft but still with a bit of crunch and color. Take them off the heat and put to the side.

Next, heat butter in the same pan over medium heat and add cauliflower. Make sure to coat it all with whatever fat you are using and cook until slightly brown and toasted looking, about 10-15 minutes. Then, create a hole in the middle so that pan is showing, add a little more butter and then eggs, beating slightly in the pan. When mostly cooked, stir eggs fully into cauliflower and add peas. Cook another two or three minutes. You can add coconut aminos or soy sauce at the end for flavor.

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You can be be making the curry in a second pan at the same time. Heat up coconut or olive oil over medium-low heat. Add curry paste and toast a few minutes until fragrant. Mix in coconut milk and just heat through. Finally, toss veggies and simmer all together for another five minutes.

Serve over fried rice and enjoy.

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Pumpkin Chili Reenactment

I’m pretty excited for fall. In my family, fall is full of birthdays and milestones. Some are happy, some are pretty sad, but I still love it. Don’t get me wrong. I will miss sunbathing and outdoor showers more than anything. But as the weather cools, I’m find I really am ready to get back to the business of cooking well and eating right. And being able to turn the oven on again without sweating to death.

In preparation, I went to Trader Joe’s this week with my friend Kathrin to stock up on all things pumpkin. I remembered making some sort of pumpkin and black bean chili last year, so I bought a few cans of pumpkin puree, a few cans of beans and a 1lb of ground turkey figuring that seemed like about the right ingredients.

When I got home I started searching for recipes, but they all had something in them I didn’t have in the house or don’t like. So, I made up my own version based on what I had and the veggies from the farm this week.

veggies-2

It came out delicious! But I forgot to take any pictures or write anything down. So, in the interest of full disclosure, the recipe below is a staged reenactment of that chili.

Pumpkin Chili

Ingredients
*makes 6 servings
(the recipe is doubled in the pictures if you are wondering why the pot is so full!)

1-2 tbs butter
1 frying pepper, cut into rings
4 small sweet peppers, cut into rings
1 onion, chopped
1 large jalapeño, sliced thin
2-3 garlic cloves sliced
1/2 tsp each: cumin, paprika, turmeric, cayenne pepper, salt
3 small tomatoes roughly chopped (w/ seeds)
1 15oz can black beans
1 15oz can cannellini beans
2 cans pumpkin puree
1 lb ground turkey
2 cups chicken stock

In a large pot, melt better and sauté onions and peppers over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until soft. Add in jalapeño and chopped garlic and cook a few more minutes.

peppers-onions

Once veggies are soft, mix in spices and cook a few more minutes. Then, stir in tomatoes and turn heat to low, letting everything stew for 5-10 more minutes.

In the meantime, brown ground turkey in a separate skillet with just a little bit of olive oil.

After the tomatoes start to get soft and cook down, add pumpkin and chicken stock into the pot. Mix well, then add in beans. Bring everything to a boil, making sure to stir often since the pumpkin is thick so nothing sticks.

Once the pot boils, turn down to low heat and mix in browned turkey. Let pot simmer on low, uncovered, for about 1 hour, stirring often.

chili-pot

I served as is, but you could top with a bit of grated cheese or a scoop of greek yogurt or sour cream.

Enjoy!

Poaching eggs in the Black Hills

May I first say, sorry for the delay in posting! I intended to post from the road, but some places had no service or electricity and all places took my head so far from the computer that I kept not writing. However, I took pictures of everything we ate along the way so I could catch up once back on the grid. Here we go.

Our first night of camping was in Badlands National Park in South Dakota. The prairie landscape here is described as beautiful and unforgiving, which I can now say is about accurate. We set up our tents and prepared for a silent and powerful sunset.

camping-chairs-and-tent-badlands-sunset

In the morning, we set our for an 8 mile hike across a harsh rock crust trail dotted with sunflowers and grasses.

bandlands-hike-power-breakfast

However, we did not depart without a tasty power breakfast! Since we were still getting a feel for how to keep the camp stove lit in the prairie winds, first morning simplicity was important. Poached eggs are great to make on a camp stove because all you have to do is boil water, and there is minimal cleanup afterwards. Plus, they are soooo good.

Ingredients:
*makes one serving

2 raw eggs
1/2 ripe avocado
1/2 fresh orange
salt and pepper to taste
a dab or two of hot sauce if you wish

poached-eggs-with-avocado-and-orange

Bring a few inches of water to a boil and add a pinch of salt. Crack both eggs into a cup. Once the water is boiled, spin the water to create a whirlpool in the middle of the pot. Then, carefully pour the eggs into the center. Cook for three minutes at a slow boil, and then remove the eggs from the water with a spoon.

Serve with avocado slices and fresh fruit!

Spring Cleaning Veggie Soup

I want to make everything from scratch, all the time. After all, I’m trying to learn how to really cook. Sauces, broths and doughs are fun to try, but they take time and love, and a lot of exploration. Sometimes they fail at 8pm at night when you’ve worked all day, gone to the gym, still have a term paper to write, and are on the verge of transforming into the hunger-induced raging lunatic doppelgänger of your normally normal self. (Who you then have to apologize for in the morning even though you have no memory of her visit…)

Anyway, it’s finals week for me and I have a big project going on at work, so when I went grocery shopping on Sunday I made a point to put together some quick and easy meals. I already had a bunch of veggies in my kitchen from all the big elaborate meals I thought up and “didn’t get to” this week, so with an additional carton of veggie broth and 1 can of beans I was able to make up this soup. Besides clearing out my fridge, it came out pretty tasty. Sometimes it pays to throw in everything but the kitchen sink and see what happens.

Ingredients:
4 celery stalks, diced
1 medium onice, diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
4 parsips, peels and sliced
2 garlic cloves, whole
4 cups vegetable broth or stock
2 cups fresh peas (or frozen, or canned if you have them)
1 can great northern beans
1 small tomato, diced
1-2 fresh basis leaves
a pinch of fresh parmesan
a pinch of herbs de provence
a pinch of crushed red pepper
sea salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil

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Preheat the oven to 375 F. Cut the sweet potato and parsnips into 1/2 inch cubes, and lay on a greased baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the pieces over half way. Since the veggies will cook a bit more in the soup, they don’t have to be completely cooked through. Watch them and make sure to remove them from the oven before they start crisping.

In a large sauce pan, heat a bit of olive oil and saute the onions and celery on med-low flame until translucent, about 5 minutes. Try to keep them from browning. Add in the rest of your ingredients, except the beans, and bring to a slow boil. Once boiling, add beans and reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for another 20 minutes.

Top with fresh parmesan to serve. I happened to have some amazing kielbasa in the fridge homemade by a friend of mine in the fridge (thanks Kathrin and Sam!), so we sliced that up and threw it in the leftovers for something different. It was refreshing and satisfying both ways.

Enjoy!

Chicken Sausage Lettuce Wraps

Confession: It’s not always easy being clean. Keeping the meal repertoire interesting and tasty enough to stay on track is hard to do sometimes. My motivation and creativity come in waves. Recently, simplicity has been my ingredient of choice. So, the other night I started with one idea, chicken sausage. Recently I’ve been playing around with taking sausage out of the casing, making it much more versatile. I actually googled “chicken sausage lettuce wraps” to see what ideas I could steal, but there wasn’t much to be found. I had cooked quinoa and a lemon in the fridge, naturally challenging me to incorporate them as well. So, I thought, let’s see if we can’t make chicken sausage lettuce wraps a thing.

chicken-sausage-lettuce-wraps

Chicken Sausage Lettuce Wraps
Makes 3-4 servings

Ingredients:
6 plain chicken sausages, casings removed
1 head bib lettuce
1 granny smith apple, diced
1 cup cooked quinoa
handfull fresh parsley, chopped (I actually pulled mind out of the freezer)
1 tbsp lemon juice
sea salt and pepper to taste

In a hot pan, add the sausage and break it up into small pieces as it begins to cook. Saute on medium heat until completely cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add in the quinoa and cook an additional 2-3 minutes, until everything is heated through.

Remove from heat. Toss sausage mixture in a large mixing bowl with parsley, lemon juice and the diced apple.

Carefully pull off each lettuce leaf, and fill them with a spoonful of the mixture. Serve like tacos. This also makes great leftovers, just pack filling and lettuce separately.

Enjoy!

Avocado, Poached Eggs and Toast!

Welcome to my favorite new breakfast/lunch/post work-out/mid-day snack. It’s delicious, hearty and packed with protein. When I am at work and can’t cook eggs, the toast and avocado is a nice replacement. Enjoy!

poached-eggs-with-toast-avocado-hot-sauce

Ingredients:
1 tsp white vinegar
2 eggs
2 slices bread (I use whole wheat sprouted bread)
1/2 ripe avocado
balsamic vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
optional: hot sauce

To prepare the poached eggs, bring a pot of water to a boil and add a teaspoon of white vinegar. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. When water comes to a slow boil, create an eddy by swirling the water around with a spoon. Drop the eggs into the center of a pot and time 3 minutes.

In the meantime, toast the bread. Spread each side with avocado and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

When the eggs are done, pull them out of the water with a slotted spoon and drain off the excess water. Place one egg on each slice of toast. If desired, top with salt and pepper with hot sauce.

close-up-of-toast-with-eggs

Enjoy!

A Sweet and Savory St. Patrick’s Day Cabbage Alternative

St. Patrick’s Day is here again! I usually do cook a corned beef and cabbage, boiled together in a pot with red potatoes. I’m not Irish, but it is a fun and delicious tradition. This year, however, I decided to branch out. This very special recipe is actually one of my grandma’s. She helped me put it together and document every step in her beautiful and amazing kitchen. I am so lucky to have her to teach me these things and be patient while I photograph her rolling up cabbage about 50 times. This meal takes some time to come together, but its a fun one and definitely worth the elbow grease when you sit down to enjoy it. I think the secret is the subtlety sweet and sour bite of the tomato sauce. People will ask you what you put in here, your call whether you tell them or not.

Of course, no meal is complete without a fine music pairing. Check out Now Streaming’s latest Beats and Eats post featuring this dish for soundtrack and drink suggestions to make the meal complete.

Veggie Stuffed Cabbage
Makes 8-10 servings
total prep and cooking time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

sauce-

2 med onions, peeled and diced
extra virgin olive oil
2 28oz or 2 quart jars whole peeled tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, whole and peeled
sea salt and black pepper to taste
¼ cup brown sugar
juice of 1-1.5 fresh lemons

filling-
1 large head of green cabbage
1 whole onion, peeled and grated/food processed
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 whole egg, slightly beaten
1 cup brown rice, uncooked
sea salt and pepper to taste
optional twist: 1.5 lbs lean ground meat (beef, turkey and venison work great!)

First, get your cabbage cooking. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Score the cabbage around the stalk which will make it easier to remove the leaves later. Place the cabbage in boiling water and cook until soft, about 30-40 minutes. Rotate the cabbage a few times while cooking so that all sides are softened.
boiling green cabbage

While that is cooking you can prepare a quick tomato sauce. Heat about ¼ inch of olive oil in a saucepan and brown your onions for 5-7 minutes. Add both cans of tomatoes and bring to a simmer on medium heat. Once the sauce is warm and simmering, add the lemon juice, brown sugar, garlic, salt and pepper. This makes for a slightly sweet and tangy sauce that goes perfectly with the cabbage! Cover sauce and keep it cooking on low heat while you prep everything else.

cooking tomato sauce on the stovetop
Next, mix the stuffing for your cabbage rolls. In a large bowl, combine grated onion, salt and pepper, egg, and garlic. If using meat add that in now. For some extra goodness grate in any veggies you have in the house! Add uncooked rice and mix together with you hands. Everything should be well mixed but only work the stuffing as much as you have to or it will become dense.
mixed brown rice and ground beef for stuffed cabbage

The final step is stuffing the cabbage leaves. Remove the cabbage from the pot and let it cool slightly. However, the leaves are most pliable when they are warm so don’t let them cool too much. If they get stiff you can always soak them in the hot water a bit more.
cooked green stuffed cabbagePeel off the leaves one by one. If they are very big, trim them or cut them in half.

stuffed green cabbagePut a little stuffing on the bottom edge of the leaf (where it attaches to the stalk).
stuffing green cabbage
Carefully fold the leaf around the stuffing by folding in both sides and then rolling it tight from the bottom on.

photo 7 photo 8 photo 9Then place the role into the tomato sauce to simmer. You can layer them onto of each other and fill the pot. The sauce will cook up around them.

fresh stuffed cabbage simmering in the pot

When all the rolls are added, make sure the sauce is simmering. Cover and boil for an additional hour. If you have extra cabbage left, dice it up and throw that in the sauce too. If you have extra meat mixture, roll into little meatballs add those also.
fresh stuffed cabbage rolls cooking in tomato sauce homemade
This dish freezes and reheats well so make extra.
fresh homemade stuffed cabbage rolls ready for storage in the freezer
Enjoy and happy St. Patty’s Day!

Fresh and Clean Beats and Eats Guest Post

This week the homegrown tomato teamed up with Radio Stevie for a fun beats and eats feature on his music blog, Now Streaming.  My Fresh and Clean Shrimp tacos were inspired by Stevie’s soundtrack for the night. It was a blast working backwards and letting the music help me decide what to create.

This fun food, wine and music pairing is sure to please your Valentine, or make a fun night with a good friend. Read the entire post here and don’t forget to let us know what you think. Happy eating!

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Squeaky Clean Shepherd’s Pie

As I am posting this it is about 40 degrees, damp and misty outside. On a night when I am most likely staying in and watching a movie under blankets, it is equally important that the movie choice is perfect and I have some awesome comfort food in the oven. Here’s what is on the menu tonight:

Clean Venison Shepard’s Pie
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 small head of cauliflower
3 large carrots, peeled diced
1 small or 1/2 large onion, diced
1.5 lbs ground meat (I used venison but any ground meat works well)
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 tbsp of fresh chopped herbs (I mixed Oregano, Parsley and Thyme)
1 tbsp parmesan or Romano cheese, finely grated
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of crushed red pepper

Preheat over to 375F. Cut cauliflower into 1-2″ chunks and lay out on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Drizzle with olive oil and roast until tender and starting to brown, about 30 minutes. When it’s done, let it cool and then dice it into very small pieces. You can leave the oven on when you pull the cauliflower out.

chopped-roasted-califlower-for-shepards-pie-topping

While that is cooking, peel and dice your carrots into 1/2″ pieces. Boil them for about 10 minutes until they are soft, but do not have to be fully cooked, then drain.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large fry or sauté pan. Add onion and sauté on medium low heat until translucent. Add ground meat and turn up the heat to medium. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. When meat is brown and mostly cooked through, add the cooked carrots and corn and cook for a few more minutes. Remove from heat.

ground-venison-with-carrots-and-corn-shephards-pie

Combine 2 tbsp olive oil with chopped herbs and parmesan. Add a pinch each of black and red pepper. In a large bowl, toss chopped cauliflower with the mixture until coated.

Line a baking dish with ground meat mixture, about 1″ deep. Cover completely with cauliflower.

layering-venison-shephards-pie

Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes. Let stand a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!